Mike Leake
Mike Leake
31-Year-Old PitcherSP
Arizona Diamondbacks
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Leake started at least 30 games for the seventh straight season, surpassing 185 innings for the fifth time in that span. Leake generally defines a league-average pitcher, at least in terms of ratios as his career 16.1 K% is well below the norm. He gets by with pinpoint control, as evidenced by a career 5.5 BB%. As a groundball pitcher, he keeps the ball in the yard, allowing 1.09 HR/9, an acceptable mark by today's standards. Leake features an 89-mph sinker and mixes in a cutter and change, with the occasional slider and curve. Streaming for home games wasn't an effective ploy in 2018 as he didn't take advantage of Safeco Field's pitcher-friendly dimensions, posting better numbers in road affairs. That was likely a sample-size anomaly, and durability and reliability are important, but Leake's pedestrian punchouts are a detriment in mixed-league play. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a five-year, $80 million contract with the Cardinals in December of 2015. Traded to the Mariners in August of 2017. Traded to the Diamondbacks in July of 2019. Contract includes a mutual $18 million option ($5 million buyout) for 2021.
Fans five in loss
PArizona Diamondbacks
September 13, 2019
Leake (11-11) was charged with the loss Friday against the Reds, surrendering four runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk while striking out five across six innings.
ANALYSIS
The right-hander was hurt by the long ball this time, giving up a pair of two-run homers to Joey Votto and Josh VanMeter. Unfortunately, the homer to VanMeter came after a costly throwing error by Brian O'Grady in the fifth inning, which proved to be the difference maker of the game. Either way, Leake fell just shy of posting a quality start and issued a rare free pass as the Diamondbacks dropped their sixth straight contest. The 31-year-old now owns a 5.51 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 120:25 K:BB and will look to bounce back during an advantageous matchup against Miami on Wednesday.
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-6%
BAA vs RHP
2019
 
 
-5%
BAA vs RHP
2018
 
 
-5%
BAA vs RHP
2017
 
 
-7%
BAA vs RHP
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2017vs Left .290 1181 161 55 319 71 5 34
Since 2017vs Right .273 1168 208 41 303 58 4 47
2019vs Left .294 436 71 19 120 29 1 18
2019vs Right .280 347 49 6 94 14 1 20
2018vs Left .288 355 41 12 97 19 3 6
2018vs Right .274 429 78 22 110 25 2 17
2017vs Left .288 390 49 24 102 23 1 10
2017vs Right .268 392 81 13 99 19 1 10
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2017
 
 
-21%
ERA at Home
2019
 
 
-34%
ERA at Home
2018
 
 
-8%
ERA on Road
2017
 
 
-29%
ERA at Home
ERA WHIP IP W L SV K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Since 2017Home 3.83 1.25 298.2 17 16 0 6.0 1.3 1.1
Since 2017Away 4.83 1.34 257.1 14 18 0 5.9 1.9 1.5
2019Home 3.70 1.20 97.1 8 4 0 5.8 0.9 1.1
2019Away 5.59 1.40 87.0 3 7 0 5.9 1.6 2.7
2018Home 4.55 1.34 87.0 4 5 0 5.9 1.6 1.0
2018Away 4.20 1.26 98.2 6 5 0 5.7 1.7 1.2
2017Home 3.38 1.22 114.1 5 7 0 6.2 1.4 1.3
2017Away 4.77 1.38 71.2 5 6 0 6.4 2.4 0.5
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Stat Review
How does Mike Leake compare to other starting pitchers?
This section compares his stats with all starting pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 120 innings)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity, Barrels/BBE %, Balls Hit 95+ MPH %, and Spin Rate are benchmarked against this season's data (min 70 IP). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • K/BB
    Strikeout to walk ratio.
  • K/9
    Average strikeouts per nine innings.
  • BB/9
    Average walks per nine innings.
  • HR/9
    Average home runs allowed per nine innings.
  • Fastball
    Average fastball velocity.
  • ERA
    Earned run average. The average earned runs allowed per nine innings.
  • WHIP
    Walks plus hits per inning pitched.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits.
  • GB/FB
    Groundball to flyball ratio. The higher the number, the more likely a pitcher is to induce groundballs.
  • Left On Base
    The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of a season.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Barrels/BBE
    The percentage of batted ball events resulting in a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
  • Spin Rate
    Spin Rate is the rate of spin on a baseball after it is released. It is measured in revolutions per minute (rpm).
  • Balls Hit 95+ MPH
    The percentage of batted balls hit that met or exceeded the 95 MPH threshold.
  • Swinging Strike
    The percentage of pitches that result in a swing and a miss.
K/BB
4.80
 
K/9
5.9
 
BB/9
1.2
 
HR/9
1.9
 
Fastball
88.4 mph
 
ERA
4.59
 
WHIP
1.30
 
BABIP
.306
 
GB/FB
1.68
 
Left On Base
69.4%
 
Exit Velocity
90.7 mph
 
Barrels/BBE
8.5%
 
Spin Rate
2074 rpm
 
Balls Hit 95+ MPH
43.4%
 
Swinging Strike
8.4%
 
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Mike Leake
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
It's cliche, but Leake is better for the real thing than fantasy. Consider this: since 2011, he's one of only five pitchers to throw at least 165 innings each season but has recorded an ERA below 3.40 only once with just one season punching out more than 160 hitters. In 2017, he pitched for his fourth organization as the Cardinals dealt the righty to the Mariners in late August. Leake excelled in the American League down the stretch, recording a 2.53 ERA with 27 whiffs to just two walks in 32 innings. Safeco Field and Busch Stadium are comparable pitching parks so the inevitable regression won't be too damaging, but even in today's increased run-scoring landscape, Leake's career 16 percent strikeout rate is a detriment. That said, Leake's reliability and durability is worth something. He should get decent run support, making Leake a streaming candidate for mixed leagues, especially at home. In AL-only, he's a nice complement to a high-strikeout but potentially risky starter.
Coming off back-to-back seasons with a 3.70 ERA, Leake struggled en route to his first losing season since 2014. Fueling the fire was an uncharacteristically poor showing against right-handed hitters. After holding them to a batting average below .265 for three straight years, his luck ran out and they put up a .304 average and .752 OPS against him in 2016. Meanwhile, he continued freely allowing home runs. In all seven of his seasons, he's allowed at least 0.97 per nine. A slight rebound isn't out of the question, and at his best, Leake can gobble up plenty of innings with a passable WHIP, but he continues to work with a low strikeout rate (16.2 percent for his career), which limits his value in most mixed formats.
Leake's skill set is pretty firmly established: he is a groundball control pitcher with modest strikeout rates and a bit of a homer issue. His ERA vacillates based on hit and home run suppression, which is how he was able to have his best (3.37) and worst (4.58) ERAs a year apart with virtually identical strikeout, walk, and groundball rates in those two seasons. The strikeout deficiency - even in this strikeout-happy era, he has never topped 7.0 K/9 - puts a firm cap on his fantasy potential as a back-end starter if you have rigid roster management rules. If you can curate his season to include only the pitcher-friendly ballparks, he becomes more valuable. His work in parks with an above-average home park factor for pitchers includes a 2.70 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 283 innings thanks in large part to a 0.73 HR/9. Be careful, even after he cashed in with an $80 million five-year deal with the Cardinals in free agency.
Projection systems typically suggest that Leake overperforms his component stats, usually because he's a groundball pitcher (53.4% of batted balls against Leake in 2014 were on the ground) with a good defense behind him. However, Leake genuinely improved in 2014, raising his strikeout percentage from 15.2% to 18.2%, while retaining low walk and HR rates. While he'll never be a great source of strikeouts, if he can maintain a semblance of his 2014 strikeouts, solid results should follow. As is the case with ace Johnny Cueto, Leake is eligible to become a free agent after the 2015 season.
Despite multiple calls for manager Dusty Baker to pull Leake from the rotation, Baker persisted and kept Leake in there and was rewarded with a solid bounce back season, as Leake posted a 3.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP while making 31 starts. However, there are some warning signs for those looking to invest for 2014. Leake is a pitch-to-contact hurler, cut out of the Bronson Arroyo mold. His strikeout rate remained perilously low (15.2%) and he struggled down the stretch with an extended workload, posting a 4.39 ERA and 1.46 WHIP over the last 60 days. Because he's well below league-average for a fantasy starting pitcher in strikeouts, Leake relies on the team context to provide value, and chances are the Reds will decline a little from the last two years, so he may not match the 14 wins he netted in 2013.
Leake has become a poor man's Bronson Arroyo on the mound, striking out just 5.8 K/9 last year while allowing 1.3 HR/9. By the time September rolled around, it was clear that Homer Bailey's spot in the rotation was secure for the playoffs and that Leake was the fifth starter and thus the odd man out in the playoffs. Johnny Cueto's ill-timed oblique injury pressed Leake into service and he was woefully inadequate against the Giants. The 2013 season presents a big challenge to Leake in saving his rotation spot, as prospects Anthony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino are knocking at the door. At least Leake can hit, though the value of that skill is diminished considerably if he's working out of the bullpen.
After an embarrassing shoplifting incident and a brief demotion in May, Leake once again outperformed expectations (and his component numbers) before getting shut down in mid-September. He's still not a dominant starter (6.33 K/9IP), but he has excellent control and ended up with modest improvements in his component numbers. He's unlikely to ever become an ace, but he could maintain a reasonable career as a third or fourth starter. When looking at his numbers, keep in mind that he has just two minor league appearances in his professional career.
Leake helped keep the Reds afloat early in the season when they were scuffling with Aaron Harang's slow start, but he declined sharply in the second half with a 6.91 ERA after the All-Star break. His drop-off can in part be attributed to fatigue, having never pitched as many innings as he did in his rookie season after bypassing the minors, and in part because he was overachieving to begin with - his xFIP ERA for April and May was nearly two runs higher than his actual ERA, and he faced only two above-average NL offenses in that stretch. Leake will have to earn his spot in the rotation in spring training, following the emergence of Travis Wood last season. He might very well begin 2011 in Triple-A Louisville.
The Reds drafted Leake with the eighth pick in the 2009 draft, with the expectation that he'll advance fairly rapidly. Leake sits between 88-92 mph with his fastball, but he has a complete four-pitch arsenal that also includes a curveball, slider and changeup. Further, he commands his pitches well and didn't show any hesitation to throw any of his pitches regardless of the count during a very successful collegiate career at Arizona State. His ceiling isn't as high as others in this draft class, but he'll ultimately profile as a No. 3 starter type. Look for him to debut in 2011.
More Fantasy News
Fires quality start Sunday
PArizona Diamondbacks
September 8, 2019
Leake gave up two runs on seven hits and zero walks while striking out three in 6.1 innings Sunday in Cincinnati. He did not factor into the decision.
ANALYSIS
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Allows four runs in win
PArizona Diamondbacks
September 2, 2019
Leake (11-10) allowed four runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out one through 6.1 innings to earn the win over the Padres on Monday.
ANALYSIS
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No shift, good results
PArizona Diamondbacks
August 28, 2019
Leake set aside 20 of 22 batters faced during one stretch Tuesday after the Diamondbacks abandoned a defensive shift strategy, Richard Morin of the Arizona Republic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Hurls 7.1 innings in win
PArizona Diamondbacks
August 28, 2019
Leake (1-2) took the win against San Francisco on Tuesday, pitching 7.1 innings and giving up two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out two.
ANALYSIS
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Hit hard by Rockies
PArizona Diamondbacks
August 21, 2019
Leake (0-2) allowed five earned runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out one across five innings to take the loss Wednesday against the Rockies.
ANALYSIS
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